Hicks on Gillett, Klinsmann, Parry, Rafa and finance

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks’ eagerly-awaited interview with Sky Sports News went out at 6am this morning, UK time, and is bound to attract massive attention. There’s little doubt that chief executive Rick Parry, fellow co-owners George Gillett and former chairman David Moores will be in contact with each other to discuss their responses, whether individually or as a group. And it would be a surprise if Dubai International Capital weren’t party to those discussions. This is big news, and although it still seems difficult to work out how it could make any difference to the final outcome of the ownership fight, everyone involved seems determined to be heard. But did we learn anything new?

The recent phase of publicity with regards to the ownership began with George Gillett speaking on Canadian radio, where the co-owner spoke about his relationship with Hicks having broken down, insisting that death threats made him decide not to sell to Hicks, who he said had run out time anyway. Last week Rick Parry received a letter from Tom Hicks, asking that he resign from his post at the club, a request Parry has resisted.

Today Hicks explained why he wants Parry out: “If you look at what has happened under Rick’s leadership, it has been a disaster. We have fallen so far behind the other top clubs. The new stadium should have been built three or four years ago.

“We have two sponsors, maybe three. We should have 12 or 15. We are not doing anything in Asia the way Manchester United and Barcelona are. We have a tremendous number of fans in Asia. So we have got the top brand in the world of football, but we just don’t know how to commercialise and get the money for it to use to buy great players.

“Rick needs to resign from Liverpool football club. He’s put his heart into it, but it is time for a change.”

The letter from Hicks to Parry was said to contain those same concerns as its reasons for suggesting Parry moves on before he gets moved on. That would be Hicks’ intention if he took over. Parry chose to respond by saying he was going to seek legal advice over the letter. Nothing further has been said by Parry on what legal action he might take. There are numerous reasons why he’s been quiet in that respect, but it’s quite possible he’s been told that there is nothing in the letter he can legally complain about. Certainly he would have a tough job complaining about the contents of the letter in terms of what is expected of him. The club have fallen well behind in those areas, and it’s difficult to see how Rick Parry could defend his role in allowing that to happen.

Ironically Parry probably agrees with the complaint from Hicks about how the stadium should have been built some time ago, and if he’d known how things would have worked out perhaps the club would have borrowed the stadium-building costs itself. We’d have then had the “Parry Bowl”, which when it was announced in 2003 was said could be ready before 2008. The club would already be making the increased revenue from the increased capacity.

He also pointed out how he felt Parry’s relationship with Benítez was causing the club problems: “You have to be able to work with the general manager and Rick has proved he can’t do that.”

Hicks mentioned frustrations he said Rafa had faced when Parry was unable to get transfers tied up, his job being to finalise the contracts. Claims Parry’s approach to getting such deals finalised saw the Reds miss out on key targets aren’t new, but until now the claims were never backed up with any real quotes. If true then it’s no wonder Rafa would be frustrated, and suggests his outburst post-Athens may have been aimed at Parry as much as anyone else.

But the fact remains that last November Rafa was close to leaving the club. Worries he was about to leave of his own accord have been given as one reason an approach to Jurgen Klinsmann was made. But whether that was seen by Hicks and Gillett as an “insurance policy” as claimed by Hicks or as a genuine aim to replace Rafa regardless isn’t clear.

But according to Hicks, Gillett seemed to feel there was a real issue with Rafa. Hicks explained that Gillett knew the German before the meetings took place: “George became good friends with him a year ago. I get this call from George out of the blue in which he says ‘have your people do their research on Klinsmann’. He and Rick set up the meeting in New York. I did go to the meeting along with my son Tom.”

Hicks says the meeting had been underway for a while when he got there: “Rick Parry had already met with Jurgen alone for a couple of hours when we arrived. We all then spoke to him for another four hours.”

The meeting was of course followed up by another at the Texan’s home in California. It was this meeting that was referred to by Hicks when he spoke to the Echo in January to own up to having spoken to Klinsmann. The interview followed reports coming from senior figures at the German FA and at Bayern Munich that the club had approached Klinsmann for the manager’s role. Hicks decided to own up to the meeting, a decision which is widely reported to have angered George Gillett.

Hicks feels he was unfairly given the blame for this meeting with the German. He was there, he clearly felt that Rafa’s future was in doubt one way or other, but he didn’t start the ball rolling he says: “Afterwards I told the truth to a reporter who asked the question and suddenly it is ‘Tom Hicks tried to get Jurgen Klinsmann’. George initiated it but we all participated.”

Rick Parry, LFC chief executiveSome fans and observers have defended Parry for his role in this pursuit of Klinsmann, a role he kept from Rafa Benítez. It’s part of his job to attend meetings of this nature, and he’d be criticised if he learned of them happening but didn’t attend. And obviously the need to remain silent about the issue is understandable, so informing Rafa he’d been at this meeting could have seen him sacked. But Rafa was clearly still annoyed at Parry’s role when he spoke after the Blackburn game, and perhaps it related to Rafa expecting honesty from Parry at later talks they’ve had. Rafa will also want to know how much of a role Parry might have played in the owners becoming fearful over Rafa’s intentions. Parry said publicly earlier in the week that he was willing to talk to Rafa about it.

There is quite a clear indication coming from Rafa’s words, from those who’ve seen him at press conferences, that he has grown so tired of Parry that it’s now got to a “him or me” situation. He is said to have told reporters to switch the microphones off again on Sunday, before telling them just what was on his mind with regards to Parry.

Hicks says that he’d give Rafa a 12-month extension to his current deal, which has two years to run. This is something that is vital if Hicks does take over and Rafa is to remain as boss, because the speculation about Rafa’s future will not go away otherwise. The contract extension is no guarantee the speculation would end either, but it would help dampen it down a little: “If I were to buy George out, the first thing I would do is offer Rafa a one-year extension to make sure he is going to be here up to when we get the stadium. Hopefully we could have some success and then extend him again.”

Hicks also said that the manager and his squad were getting on with their jobs rather than letting off-field issues get in the way: “Rafa and the players have their heads down. They are playing great. We communicate regularly. I know he feels comfortable with the way things are going.”

And he also said he thinks Rafa has special qualities to help the club keep winning: “I think we will continue to have success. I think Rafa has unique skills, he motivates the team and we have some great players who are learning how to play with each other.”

If he’s getting on with Rafa, he’s not getting on with Gillett. We all know this, but he was asked to confirm if the relationship really had broken down: “At this point it is unworkable. We started this as friends but 50-50 is a difficult business proposition because you cannot do anything without your partner’s approval. We had a good honeymoon but, over a period of time, there have been issues, the stadium being the main one.”

Quite what the stadium issue is wasn’t clear. Was it an issue between the two of them relating to the stadium? Certainly we know that the stadium plans announced in July were scrapped on cost grounds. That resulted in both the Texan firm responsible for those July plans and the Manchester firm responsible for the older plans being given a chance to try again, at the new budget. The Texan firm got the nod in the end, but there were whispers at the time that Hicks was the only one who wanted those plans, and that Gillett, Parry and the club’s advisors all preferred the Manchester option. Other than that, and it’s of course nothing more than a whisper, there never seemed to be any actual issues with each other over the stadium. Of course by the time that version of the stadium was unveiled, the relationship between the two owners was already far from perfect.

Tom Hicks and George GillettNow that relationship sees George Gillett claiming he won’t sell. Hicks admits he can’t force Gillett to sell, and although he didn’t mention any veto in this interview he did point out that if Gillett didn’t sell that we’d be stuck in the current state of limbo: “If George doesn’t sell – because I am not going to sell – I guess we stay in this position that we are in. It’s complicated but it is going to happen although I can’t force George to accept. I am planning to make him a very attractive offer. If I had a majority on I could put more capital in.”

Hicks’ critics claim he hasn’t got the capital to put in, but this has never been anything more than speculation based on the general state of the financial world, particularly in the US, mixed with alleged tip-offs from finance staff at various institutions.

The reports that the end of May is the end of a deadline for Hicks to buy Gillett’s half before DIC can’t be stopped from doing so has gathered pace to the extent it’s now being reported as fact. Certainly I believe that DIC’s PR people are reaffirming that claim, and if true it would mean Hicks could face having new partners in the summer. But nobody else seems to be making the claim, and only DIC can say if 50% would suit them.

For all the complaints about the Klinsmann situation, the main burning issue is the club’s finances, in particular the debt. The actual debt the club is directly or indirectly responsible for is now £52m more than at takeover, but none of it was on the club’s books back then. Hicks says he wants to get rid of the biggest part of the debt on the club, and to get the finance ready for the new stadium. “My goal is take all the debt off the club except the working capital needed and get the permanent financing totally in place for the stadium,” he said.

He also explained how he sees the purchase of the club taking place if he’s successful. It will not be necessarily done with loans to pay off Gillett’s loans: “I want the finances of the club to be secure. I want to be the majority owner of a group that buys the club and I have got a 25-year track record of being a very successful investor around the world. The fans don’t like the fact that we borrowed a lot of money to buy the club but I will fix that.”

Again, Hicks’ critics will dismiss that claim, putting it down to being all talk. He said the right things – we don’t like that debt on the club, we don’t like the thought of not being able to fund the stadium – now it’s time to do the right things.

He pulled few punches when he described DIC’s tactics to get back in contention for ownership of the club: “DIC has no seat at the table. They are masters of the British tabloid spin. They want to stir the pot of Liverpool to create dissension. I did talk to Dubai about being a 49 per cent partner but it just didn’t work out. They didn’t share the same vision I have and I didn’t think they could become minority partners. I am not going to have any more 50-50 partners.”

If Hicks can get the finance it’s difficult to see how Gillett could both refuse his offer and accept one from DIC, so much depends on him getting that finance in place. If this end-of-May deadline is true, and Hicks fails to meet it, then the ball is in DIC’s court and depends on if they are willing to go 50-50 with Hicks, and if they feel they’ve got the ability to either work with him or force him out in such a partnership. But if Gillett receives an offer from Hicks tomorrow, that matches anything from DIC, Gillett’s choice will surely be to sell to Hicks or not at all. And the latter means more limbo.

Nothing in the interview came as a surprise.

Parry and Rafa clearly have problems working together, and if these problems can’t be resolved then it absolutely has to see the end of one of their careers at Anfield. In most cases fans have no feelings towards members of the board room, but strong feelings towards a manager. Rafa’s surely in the stronger position if fans’ views are to be taken into account.

Claims of some players being unwilling to work with Rafa if he supports Hicks have started to spread, but again it comes down to a choice. That’s if it’s actually true. Do fans prefer Rafa with five players missing from his squad, or Parry, a new manager, and possibly more changes to the squad? But whatever the fans prefer, it’s hardly their choice anyway. No matter how much any owner is prepared to listen to fans, a line will always be drawn somewhere.

The fact it’s got to this kind of talk is regrettable. ‘Rafa or Parry’ and ‘Rafa or Key-Player’ – is just not a great state of affairs. But the hate and the anger will continue to grow for as long as we have this stand-off. Whether claims or accusations come in the form of strongly-believed rumours or carefully worded quotes in the media they will continue to add fuel to this fire.

It’s understandable why Hicks gave this interview. He wanted to set the story ‘straight’. His version anyway.

He had a lot of stick over the Klinsmann admissions, and in fact got the full blame for it for much of the time. No doubt Parry and Gillett will have a different version of events, and we’ll probably hear them before the day is out, but Hicks clearly wasn’t happy at how the others, particularly Gillett, had got away almost scot-free with their part in those talks.

He also got much stick for his treatment of Rafa. Leading on from those Klinsmann talks and the orders to “concentrate on coaching”, the “Rafa pouted” quip in the US press showed him to have what looked like contempt for the greatest manager the club has had since the legendary Kenny Dalglish stepped down. Now he’s talking about how Rafa seems to appreciate him, and how he’s prepared to offer him an extended contract.

And finance was addressed. His “goal” is to take the debt off the club. The club’s always had some form of debt, usually in the form of overdrafts, as many clubs do, and perhaps this was the “working capital” he referred to. He implies that removing the debt from the club will come by way of him adding capital, and a new group of which he’s the majority owner taking control of the club. No details were given, but he seemed sure this would be what the fans would prefer. But questions will still need to be asked, including questions on the long-term structure of the investment. Putting the money in place to help a manager bring number 19 is just the start, we want to eventually be winning numbers twenty onwards, and we don’t want to be waiting until the twenties for that to start. Likewise we don’t want to see our club abandoned in the twenties, with all the potential realised and profits down to a minimum.

So, he addressed the main issues, and if he’s being completely honest then more supporters than before could be willing to give him a chance. But it remains, for now, just talk.

And talk isn’t getting us anywhere.

169 thoughts on “Hicks on Gillett, Klinsmann, Parry, Rafa and finance”

  1. Stephen: Thanks for the reply, I’m replying on the fly as I go along rather than reading the whole thing first.

    I will always support the team on the pitch – I will support Liverpool FC long after Hicks’ cashes in and gets his 30 pieces of silver on the back of honest decent fans giving over their hard earned money to him. I will no longer attend Anfield (I live in Ireland so I only get over 2 times a year). Not a huge sacrifice I grant you but its all I can do. I will not buy one shred of merchandise.
    Fair enough, and I’ve no reason to doubt you or fault you in that. The reason for asking really comes from fears that all the talk of how bad things will be under Hicks has a danger of become a self-fulfilling prophecy thanks to never-ending protests that in a large part may not be based on any actual facts. I just wondered how far people would go if Hicks did win this battle.

    What has the Parry Bowl got to do with anything?? I didn’t realise that was a DIC plan!!! Where did DIC ever say they would build a stadium based on 5 year old designs that were scrapped years ago!!
    Sorry, if I’ve made that sound like something else. I never said they’d said what they’d do about the stadium. In fact that’s one of the problems. They’ve said nothing at all.
    Hicks is being criticised because Gillett said work would start in 60 days on the Parry Bowl, but it didn’t. Work on that could actually kick off tomorrow, seeing as it has planning permission and is far cheaper.
    Obviously we’ve then got the complete embarrassment over the July version being scrapped, after we’d all got excited about it and I’ve still not heard a decent explanation for that. It also has planning permission, but is too expensive.
    Now we’re near to the point where a decision is made on planning permission for the latest version. If it’s granted then I think work can start late August / early September, but there are no guarantees that planning permission will be given. It’s estimated to take 3 years to build, so it’s already tight to get it open in time for 2011-2012.
    But nobody’s asked DIC what they intend to do. Not that they’d tell us, but all the DIC fans (and I know you’re not one) seem to assume they’ll be building us something even better than the plans on the table now. Well if that’s the case then planning permission has to be sought again. And that makes 2011-2012 pretty impossible.
    Are we going to get protests against DIC if they dumb back down to the Parry Bowl, or delay the stadium by another season? Everyone (nearly) assumes that they’ll be a breath of fresh air and would do nothing but good. But nobody knows what they’ll do. Nobody has a clue.
    A lot of people don’t seem to realise this, but a lot of people seem to realise it and say it’s ok, let’s get them in and then ask them!

    If that this is the route they go down then I will resist that as per Hicks’. DIC havene’t done that but Hicks already has. Rafa was going to get the sack if we were knocked out of the Champions League. My first option is always Share Liverpool.
    ShareLiverpool is a good option, if it can raise the money, but it’s not without some concerns (imagine the situation when it’s time to vote for the next president for example). The days of finding a near-perfect solution have long gone.
    The point I was making is again just this unknown quantity about DIC that always seems to be countered with “Ooh they’d not do that, oh no, they’re fine people, image is important to them…” (And the importance of their self image being a selling point for our acceptance of them often strikes me as odd too.)

    All I can do is look at previous investments they made. DIC have always been concerned with making whatever investment they are involved in the absolute best. As the horse racing industry (which the revolutionalised). They have pride in their country and pride in what they do.
    Hicks’ past is entirely different. He uses taxpayers money to make himself rich. He redirects university funds into his own businesses, he LBO’s good companies – sweats the assets makes good people redundant and sells it on, he gets bank loans to buy into football clubs promises money for transfers, promises stadiums and causes turmoil at board level (corinthians, liverpool), he gets loans to buys into american sports clubs and then leaves them stagnate while he sweats as much money as he can from honest fans.

    The first point is a good one, in terms of how highly-regarded the horse-racing side of things is. If similar passion went into LFC we’d not be able to ask for better really. But from what I can gather, Godolphin has nothing to do with DIC. Godolphin is a passion of the Sheikh’s, some describe it as his hobby. DIC is the investment company from Dubai, designed to put money into things and get more money back out at the other end.
    When DIC’s PR people put it about that The Sheikh was a Liverpool fan they said they’d checked it out before revealing it. So if that’s true, and he shows the same passion, well there’s only good times ahead.
    Or are there? There’s no evidence whatsoever to say it’s true, but at least al-Ansari’s a Red. But he’s still just an employee, and we can’t rely on that as anything more than a bonus point.
    And what about stories like these – http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3752832.ece?
    As for the fuss over LBO’s, is there anyone reading who can explain this?

    http://web.archive.org/web/20070105081522/http://www.dubaiic.com/directprivate.htm (from DIC website Jan 2007)
    “Direct Private Equity Investments
    Dubai International Capital selectively leads or co-leads Mid/Large Cap private equity transactions.
    With a preference for Leveraged Buy Outs in Europe and North America , DIC focuses on opportunities where it can add value to the deal, and subsequently, the business. DIC has a particular interest in working as co-lead with or buying from top tier private equity managers.

    Our first such investment was Tussauds Group, which we acquired in a £800 million secondary LBO in May 2005. This was followed in May 2006 by the £700 million acquisition from Royal Bank Private Equity of Doncasters, a leading manufacturer of precision engineered components for applications in a range of industries including aerospace, industrial gas turbines, automotive turbochargers and medical technologies. The most recent transaction was the £675m secondary buyout of Travelodge, the UK’s fastest growing hotel chain which closed in September 2006.”
    And the current version:
    ”Dubai International Capital
    Private Equity
    Dubai International Capital Private Equity is focused on secondary buy-outs and acquisitions of market leading companies in Europe and North America with a proven strategy and a robust management team.
    Some of this division’s major investments include:
    * The acquisition of Tussauds Group for £800 million, a leading operator of visitor attraction and theme parks, which was later merged with Blackstone’s Merlin Entertainments Group in 2007. Dubai International Capital retains a 20 percent shareholding in the combined Tussauds-Merlin Group
    * The acquisition of Doncasters for £700 million and the follow-on acquisition of FastenTech for US$492 million to create a leading player in global precision engineering for the industrial gas turbine, aerospace, specialist automotive and other industries
    * The £675 million secondary buyout of Travelodge, a leading budget hotel chain
    * The €850m acquisition of Mauser, a world leader in industrial packaging

    Any reason why “LBO” and “Leveraged Buy Out” has gone out of their own description of this branch of their operation?
    With regards their purchase of Tussauds, it looks like they sold 80% of it in March last year, turning the £800m into £1028m + retaining a 20% share. That’s a profit of £228m! Plus they’ve kept hold of a fifth of the company. http://www.merlinentertainments.biz/en/press/tussaudsscombination.aspx. They only owned it for two years!
    Now you can read that in a number of ways, ranging from a sure sign that they like to buy big names and sell them on shortly afterwards for a huge profit, or that they make big names more successful.
    I see the list of stuff you’ve put against Hicks, and although I’m not disputing it I’m not taking at face value. I need to go back and check the details of all those things you mention. (Unless someone’s willing to throw some links up!).

    Thats why they all must GO!!! They are all liars!!!
    Trouble is, I’d include DIC in that, which leaves nobody.
    Of course I wouldn’t be happy. I want Share Liverpool not DIC. Read my answer above if the only choice on the table was DIC or Hicks I would make an informed decision and have to in all honestly plump for DIC.
    (Nice to hear the fans at fulham singing get out of our club while I write this)

    As long as it really is an informed decision then that’s understandable. The point I’ve been trying to make for some time is that I don’t think many people have been making informed decisions, but decisions based on emotionally-charged spin. And that includes the negative reaction to the spin from Hicks. When he spins, it’s picked apart. When DIC spin, it’s either accepted or people let it pass.

    Q. If you’re 100% certain that you’re right, if you keep going back and checking that your views are based on if not facts at least some good circumstantial evidence then that’s fine.
    A. So Hicks hasn’t done all of the above?? Or DIC??

    Have you checked?! 😉

    Share Liverpool would be a dream compared to this shambles. No greedy business men to suck our club dry all money raised ploughed back into the club – we would be unstoppable.
    On the whole it’s the best option, I’m sure it is, but not everyone likes it.

    DIC are unknown but they cannot be any worse than Hicks. See above.
    I used to think that. They can’t be any worse than Hicks-and-Gillett together, especially as it stands now, but they can still be pretty bad.

    Again I never said DIC are perfect but for once the saying of ‘Better the devil you know’ doesn’t fit!! Hope this clarifies and that liverpool fans reading take these points on board before deciding that we stick with Hicks reign (of 15 months) of terror and infighting
    Thanks for taking so much time, it’s good that someone’s willing to do this.
    I still maintain that I don’t think it’s going to be down to us who takes over. His PR “disaster” on Thursday was no more damaging to the club than the 11th hour protests that are likely to start taking place now. Neither are particularly damaging, but neither are actually likely to do the club any good.
    He’ll either get the money, or he’ll go.
    If he gets the money, I think we’re better off working with him, after giving him clear instructions on what we will and won’t stand for.
    If he doesn’t get the money, we need give the same instructions to DIC or anyone else here to make money out of us.
    Meanwhile, whoever takes over, Rogan Taylor et al should be approaching potential owners now with a view to getting a possible partial shareholding in the club. It can’t be done now, in good time, but it’s a drive that should still be started now, not next year.
    One day, who knows, maybe it will grow enough to buy the club, or at least get control.
    There may be problems, there may be issues and obstacles, but I think it’s important to start getting a foot in the door now.

    Thanks again Stephen.

  2. Thanks Leanne, I appreciate the thoughts (that sounds crapper than it’s meant to, sorry. I do appreciate the thoughts!)

    Edward: The Express story. My views:

    1) Harry Harris.
    2) It’s not really new “news”
    3) Harry Harris
    4) It’s a different amount (£60m) but still shows GG as rather greedy. Acting for the good of the club? If this was true it would give him a profit in one year £20m short of what Moores got for years at the club. And he probably couldn’t actually afford his half of the club in the first place when he first came along.
    5) Harry Harris.
    6) If Hicks is guilty of all the charges against him then I suppose it’s considered fair play to play dirty against him, but it’s hardly the sign of an honourable organisation if they really are trying to bully him out of the club he rightfully owns (half of, with loans, before anyone points it out!).
    7)Harry Harris.
    8 )Further reading: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/35432/Yanks-so-much-Liverpool-to-be-Arab-owned
    9) Harry Harris.
    10) “Gillett has secretly agreed to sell his half stake” Secretly?
    11) Harry Harris.

    On a serious note this bit:

    Expect knee-jerk denials but the Express has been told by reliable contacts of the ‘deal’ that will soon kick in – and that the ‘English’ section of the Liverpool board, led by chief executive Rick Parry and former chairman David Moores, will approve the new takeover strategy.

    Needs looking at.

    The “board” have less say than is often claimed. The decisions are made by a “management committee” that sits above the board. There are two members on the management committee, who are both American.

    Also LFC are not, technically, up for sale.

    It’s the “Kop” company or companies that are up for sale. Each of H & G own 50% of the holding company, which owns LFC in full.

    Parry and Moores have no say whatsoever in the sale of the shares in the parent company.

    As for “reliable contacts” – David Bick?

  3. Just going through some of the stuff I’ve started but not finished this past week and found this quote from Rafa, about having a day off for his birthday:

    “It may be a day off but the phone is always on.”

    Was it a dig at Parry?

    Sorry, maybe reading too much into it…

  4. Cheers Jim,
    you’re dead right though, what constitutes personal opinion based on a bias toward one camp or the other should be separated from what is actually on the record.

  5. Jim, thanks for your reply – this is starting to become a good debate!

    Tom Hicks raiding university funds


    Tom Hicks is a Dallas billionaire and investment banker who began raiding the University’s public funds after the University refused to invest in his dental company in the early 90’s. Hicks first appeared on the public scene when he donated $17,500 to Ann Richards, Texas governor at the time. He was subsequently appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Richards in 1994.

    After Ann Richards was defeated in 1994 by George W. Bush, Hicks shifted his heavy donations to Bush. Hicks gave $146,000 to Bush in both of his gubernatorial campaigns. In return for the gratitude, Bush approved legislation to form UTIMCO in 1995. Hicks had used a full-court press strategy, spending between $50,000 to $110,0001 in lobbying and using with the powerful lobbying team Vinson and Elkins, who represents several Texas business interests, to achieve this dream.

    Conveniently for both men, Bush appointed Hicks as the first chair to UTIMCO, which began the tradition of tit-for-tat management and good-ol’ boy favoritism that has defined the relationship between UTIMCO and Texas politics since. In 1998, Hicks would make Bush a multi-millionaire by purchasing the Texas Rangers. In addition, Hicks’ company, Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, Inc., is now Bush’s number 4 career patron. The company is still donating to the GOP; Rick Perry has received $283,481 from Hicks Muse, with another $176,500 coming from Charles Tate [Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, Inc.]. Hicks’s brother Steven has also thrown in $138,516.

    For several years, UTIMCO acted in secrecy under the protection of the Texas Attorney General, which facilitated the process of questionable investments in return for political favors. UTIMCO invested some $525 million in assets run by Hicks associates and other major GOP donors. After the Houston Chronicle exposed such insider dealings in a 1999 article, Tom Hicks resigned from the board.

    Is this some one we want running us??

    Leveraged buyouts


    HIcks Muse Capital is a private equity firm in the United States that specializes in leveraged buyouts. The firm was previously known as Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. The firm was founded in 1989 by Tom Hicks and John Muse as Hicks, Muse & Co. and was changed in 1994 to reflect the roles of Charles Tate and Jack Furst.

    The son of a Texas radio station owner, Tom Hicks became interested in leveraged buyouts as a member of First National Bank’s venture capital group. Hicks and Robert Haas formed Hicks & Haas in 1984; the next year that firm bought Hicks Communications, a radio outfit run by Hicks’ brother Steven. (This would be the first of many media companies bought or created by the buyout firm, often with Steven Hicks’ involvement.)

    Hicks & Haas’ biggest coup was its mid-1980s buy of several soft drink makers, including Dr Pepper and 7 Up. The firm took Dr Pepper/7 Up public just 18 months after merging the two companies. In all, Hicks & Haas turned $88 million of investor funding into $1.3 billion. The pair split up in 1989; Hicks wanted to raise a large pool to invest, but Haas preferred to work deal by deal.

    Hicks raised $250 million in 1989 and teamed with former Prudential Securities banker John Muse. Early investments included Life Partners Group (life insurance, 1990; sold 1996). In 1991 Morgan Stanley’s Charles Tate and First Boston’s Jack Furst became partners.

    As part of its buy-and-build strategy, Hicks Muse bought DuPont’s connector systems unit in 1993, renamed it Berg Electronics, added six more companies to it, and doubled its earnings before selling it in 1998. Not every move was a star in the Hicks Muse crown. Less-than-successful purchases included bankrupt brewer G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, bought in 1994 and sold two years later for an almost $100 million loss.

    The buyout firm’s Chancellor Media radio company went public in 1996. That year Hicks Muse gained entry into Latin America with its purchases of cash-starved Mexican companies, including Seguros Commercial America, one of the country’s largest insurers. That year also brought International Home Foods (Jiffy Pop, Chef Boyardee) into the Hicks Muse fold.

    In 1997 Chancellor and Evergreen Media merged to form Chancellor Media (renamed AMFM in 1999). The next year Hicks Muse continued buying US and Latin American media companies, as well as a few oddities (a UK software maker, a Danish seed company, and US direct-seller Home Interiors & Gifts]). Hicks Muse and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts merged their cinema operations to form the US’s largest theater chain. The company that year also moved into the depressed energy field (Triton Energy) and formed a $1.5 billion European fund.

    Buys in 1999 included UK food group Hillsdown Holdings, one-third of Mexican flour maker Grupo Minsa, and (just in time for millennial celebrations) popular champagne brands Mumm and Perrier-Jouët (it quadrupled its investment when it sold the champagne houses in late 2000). Lured by low stock prices on real estate investment trusts (REITs), the company agreed to buy Walden (formerly Walden Residential Properties) that year.

    Hicks Muse, along with UK-based Apax Partners, bought BT’s yellow pages firm Yell for roughly $3.5 billion, making it the largest non-corporate LBO in European history. Yell bought US directories publisher McLeodUSA for about $600 million, and floated in 2003.

    Hicks Muse spotted a tasty deal and bought Nestlé’s Ambient Food Business in 2002, which added well-known UK brands Crosse & Blackwell, Branston Pickle, Chivers (marmalade), Sun-Pat (peanut butter), Gale’s (honey), Sarson’s (vinegar) and Rowntree’s (jelly) to the Premier Foods stable. Cereal maker Weetabix Limited and Unilever’s cast-offs Ambrosia (creamed rice and puddings) and Brown & Polson, rounded out Premier Foods’ portfolio in 2003.

    Acquisitions in 2004 included Kerns Oil & Gas (renamed Blackbrush Energy — natural gas production), Persona (Canadian cable television company), Regency Gas Services (gas processing and distribution), and Centennial Puerto Rico Cable TV (Puerto Rican cable television company). It also agreed to buy a majority stake in trendy luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo. Disposals during the year included the company’s remaining stake in Yell and its stake in Premier Foods. Thomas Hicks retired at the end of 2004; co-founder John Muse replaced him at the helm of the firm.

    The company’s European arm, Lion Capital LLP has been on a roll of late and split from the company in January of 2005.



    Meanwhile, the free flow of capital has resulted in foreigners investing in football clubs, often with disastrous consequences, such as when the American buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst bought Corinthians, Sao Paulo’s leading club.

    Corinthians won the World Cup championships in 2000, but the club’s performance subsequently slumped and a political row ensued as fans began to protest about everything from player trades to changes in the colour of jerseys. Hicks, Muse exited three years later, following a row with its local partner.

    And we all know about the Rangers record in American baseball – attendances down stagnation etc.

    Hope this post isn’t too long but I don’t think it shows Hicks in a good light.

    As Shankly said – “The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. Thats how I see football, that’s how I see life”
    I don’t think we’ll ever hear anything even close to that from Hicks!!!!

  6. Jim,

    First of all, thank you for your response to my earlier post. Just a few points I wanted to make following on from what you said.

    I think it is a bit of an insult if you think that most of the fans who post on here are doing so in the hope to convince you to say popular things or make it a popular site (in the sense of a monopoly on opinion/view).

    I do confess that I want this site to be popular and in deed given the high quality posting of people like Julie, John Steele et al, it is a popular site for those who do not merely join a particular bandwagon. In an earlier post someone mentioned the family-like feel this site has. I still share that sentiment notwithstanding my reservations.

    Re: end of May, my query was about resolution of ownership by this period. There is too much being fed to the media for it to just be considered as PR. I believe that some credit is due to journalists (who i would on the whole to check what they are being told, particularly if they have had their hands burnt once or twice).

    You managed to drag DIC’s name into this point on the issue of whether Rafa will be kept on. I did not ask about that. Furthermore, you have said that you do not doubt Hicks will keep him on. You have missed the point and started talking about the virtues or lack of the various LFC suitors.

    Re: share sale….do you seriously believe that either Hicks or Gillett would allow a clause or set of clauses which would allow the other to undercut a rival offer by any amount, let alone 25% (particularly given your clear dislike of Gillett?)

    In that interview, Gillett also said that Hicks had been given the opportunity but had not yet been able to cross the line (or words to that effect).

    I would also say that being able to veto a sale by a fellow shareholder is not the same as matching a rival offer. Conversely, I do believe that the 49%-51% proposal came about as a negiotated compromise to overcome any waiting time (3 months as is popularly reported). If it was 50-50% then the issue of veto would not have arisen as Hicks would then have to match or better the offer. In this instance, I agree Gillett would not have been able to refuse regardless of death threats without incurring contractual penalties (unless of course a rival bidder was prepared to compensate this). I personally would not advise on a party being able to veto a deal after a option period had lapsed (exceptional circumstances aside).

    re: PR and timing. I do not agree with your view Jim and I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. You posted a most eloquent blog on the Hillsborough disaster on that day. The news that Hicks was doing or had done an interview was in the domain the days before the anniversary and the anticipation (for want of a better phrase) did cloud the period when it should not have done. You keep going back to the Gillett interview and its unhelpful timing. Yes it was badly timed, but I really hope you are not comparing the eve of a Semi-final CL tie (gillett) to the Hillsborough disaster anniversary (Hicks). Both are wrong but one, in my view is inexecusable). I hear what you say that there was some 48 odd hour delay in airing the interview (or whatever anyone else may wish to call it) but the fact that we knew it was on the way definitely enraged me).

    Re: Sky vs. LFC tv. I used LFC tv as an example and still think it would have been the preferred domain if wanted to reach the fans. I don’t know whether it would have been possible – probably not. If Hicks wanted to be taken seriously and be asked more searching questions why not invite someone from BBC or ITV? Instead he opted for dolly questions.
    With regards to my reservations to Sky, I stand by them. There have been countless occasions when they have given a less than impartial take on Liverpool matters. When you have fans petitioning the channel to swap one of their commentators, something must be clearly wrong. Regards to the income etc., this is missing the point. Using your analogy, do you lose the right to fairness purely because an entity is you direct/indirect paymaster? No, I did not think so myself.

    With regards to the perceived impartiality on matters HICKs/PARRY/DIC, my particular fustration with you recent posts have been along the times of “but a is just as bad b c and d” when in any many cases, fans have asked why you take a particular view on say Hicks. You do seem to quickly move on to criticising others. Have you, per chance, noticed this? That’s my view – right or wrong.

    In response to imagining if I was in Hick’s shoes to understand why he is being accused of things being said or done by others? Jim, first of all, from someone as streetwise as he appears to be, I would not try to treat fans as mugs!! Before you say it, my sentiments would be the same if it was Gillett or DIC or Parry or Moores or anyone else for that matter. Clearly, all or most of these have at some point insulted the intelligence of fans. This irritates me more than anything else.

  7. What a very selective and loaded list. (You could do that with any human being.)

    “And we all know about the Rangers record in American baseball – attendances down stagnation etc.”

    LOL. That is how the Rangers have ALWAYS been. Success with the Rangers would take an act of God. The lack of success with that team isn’t really something any rational or knowledgeable person would seriously hold against someone.

  8. re: PR and timing……

    You keep going back to the Gillett interview and its unhelpful timing. Yes it was badly timed, but I really hope you are not comparing the eve of a Semi-final CL tie (gillett) to the Hillsborough disaster anniversary (Hicks).

    Sorry it should have read Q-final CL tie.

    There is an article in the Times which suggests that Rafa is actually in the strongest position as all or most of the potential suitors need to be on-side with him if they want the popular fan vote.

  9. Leanne – forgot to mention but i whole heartedly agree with your thoughts.

    Jim – are you seriously trying to group LFC in the same category as Tussauds?

    John – please do make the occasional posts – whatever others say, your input is missed.

    I promised a brief return to this forum and therefore bid everyone all the best.

  10. dawg are you back for more punishment?

    “Prior to Glazer ownership, the Buccaneers were perennial losers, maligned by others as the Yuccaneers and other derogatory names. The hiring of qualified football coaches and office staff quickly turned around the franchise and in a short few years the team was a playoff contender. In the 1999 season the team, then coached by Tony Dungy, was defeated in the NFC championship game by the heavily favored St. Louis Rams by a score of 11-6 in a game in which the Bucs and their defensive-minded scheme nearly pulled a major upset. In the 2002 season, the first season with new coach Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders for their first Super Bowl victory. Gruden had coached the Raiders the previous season.”


  11. Texas Dawg, are you saying Hicks does not have the ability to grow the Texas Rangers??

    If he can’t grow the Rangers what chance has he of growing Liverpool?? Because there are plently of owners who have taken a non performing ‘franchise’ and made them great. Hicks doesn’t have the ability which you have confirmed in numberous posts. Thanks for highlighting that to us.

    I point you to the most under performing franchise in American history and what happened when it was taken over by people with ability – The New England Patriots.

  12. You know, the prospect of Hicks ownership in the long term is terrifying if the number of horror stories revealed about his past is anything to go by, never mind his involvement in the debacle over the last 15 months. I think this prospect understandably concerns almost all Liverpool fans.

    There’s a lot of speculation at the moment that Gillett will sell his 50% to DIC in the next few weeks. Is everyone forgetting the Hicks – DIC negotiation a few months ago? That would have left Hicks with a 51% majority and if I remember rightly it was Hicks who called the negotiations off. Now the favoured view is that Gillett will sell 50% to DIC soon. If that’s the case, why did DIC enter negotiations for only 49%? Furthermore, if Hicks is under so much threat, why did he call those negotiations off? It makes no sense to me. I wonder if this latest round of conjecture is simply a pipe-dream on the part of those who cannot accept the fact that Hicks may get sole control of the club, whether we like it or not.

  13. What’s happened to Bascombe?

    We know he’s got an editor to please and we know he’s being paid to write the type of stories that fit in with the front pages of the paper but can he not concentrate on getting Hicks out without doing this to Rafa and the players?

    Sounds like Rafa is going with Hicks now because there is no other choice if he wants a job and he was in with Hicks when he started attacking Parry.

    Sound like the players aren’t with and so some of them are going to leave.

    Sounds like we have to choose rafa and hicks or lose rafa but keep players.

    Rob Beesley could have written that by Bascombe and with us getting ready to play chelsea in two days how can it help us? Beesley must be dancing a jig because a supposed Liverpool fan has done his dirty work for him.

    He even says about bad timing in there himself then puts this out. He’s sounding bitter.

  14. Hop, I think Raju’s post from 11.48pm above addresses the very question you ask about the relevance of the 49%-51% negotiations back in February 2008.

  15. Leanne, Raju – I absolutely don’t buy that explanation, but if DIC are best for our club, I hope you’re right.

  16. Tom Hicks chat was more offensive than charming

    Apr 19 2008 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo

    THOSE who studied GCSE history may be aware of President Frankli n D Roosevelt’s fireside chats.

    A staple in American homes from 1933-45, Roosevelt would conduct radio interviews in a homely setting to give the impression that although he was a politician he was also a human being and a family man who could be trusted to do right thing by the public even during the most testing of times.

    On Thursday, Tom Hicks tried to reawaken the spirit of FDR when he did his very own fireside chat for the benefit of Liverpool’s long suffering fans.

    It needs only a glance at the myriad of Reds related forums and websites to discover that Hicks’ efforts failed – and miserably at that.

    From the stage managed props – including an LFC cup which was so untouched it looked like it had been delivered from the club shop that very day – to the Liverpool gear that Hicks donned in every shot, the whole set up could not have been more forced had Hicks had the cast of Carousel singing You’ll Never Walk Alone in the background.

    There was even a pot shot at Everton from the star of the show just to make sure no-one was left in any doubt that the gallery was being played to with all the gusto of a politician wanting to prove he really is a nice family man after all, just days after being caught in a compromising position on Hampstead Heath.

    “My family loves Liverpool,” said Hicks, in front of a couple of teenagers who tried but failed not to look incredibly bored as they watched daddy’s UK franchise beating Rovers of Blackburn on a TV so big it made the Anfield pitch look lifesize.

    If this was a charm offensive then it seems hardly anyone was charmed but almost everyone was offended.

    Trying too hard is never going to be an impressive sight and whoever was the brains behind this misguided operation missed the mark by quite some distance.

    And it no doubt left DIC – whom Hicks derided as “masters of spin” – rubbing their hands in glee at the biggest own goal since Djimi Traore’s muddled dancing feet knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

    If Hicks really wants to win the Liverpool fans over he could start by acting like someone who has the best interests of the club at heart because that is something which has been conspicuous only by its absence ever since he took ownership of the club alongside George Gillett.

    Pledges which he made on his opening day in control have not been kept and the Texan has washed more dirty linen in public than anyone in his position should ever do.

    That is why the majority of Liverpool’s fans are still of the opinion that it is Hicks and not Rick Parry who is the biggest problem at the club, even though many of them feel that time should be called on the chief executive’s time at the club also.

    And seeing as Hicks is so taken by the influence of FDR, maybe he should consider one of the wartime president’s most telling quotes.

    “Confidence,” he opined, “thrives on honesty, on honour, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.”

    There is precious little confidence in Hicks at Anfield at the moment. The time has come for him to ask himself why – not blame others.

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